A few stories for Children’s Book Week

It’s Children’s Book Week (16–22 August 2014), so let’s enjoy a few stories about literature for the young (and young-at-heart).

First up, an old school/new kid project out of the University of Colorado (Boulder): the Tactile Picture Books Project.

Tactile books have been around for a long time. They’re fantastic objects for introducing the magical world of books to very young children who are blind or visually impaired. You can read about the Tactile Book Advancement Group here, and about how to make fabric tactile books here. You can also find out more here about Vision Australia’s Feelix Library. It’s a great Braille book library for children who are blind or have low vision.

But the CU-Boulder Tactile Picture Books Project has a surprising ‘new kid’ aspect. It’s producing the first-ever 3D-printed tactile picture books.

University of Colorado Boulder students Abby Stangl and Jeeeun Kim are using 3D printers to assist very young blind and visually impaired readers (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)
Some pages from Goodnight moon – University of Colorado Boulder students Abby Stangl and Jeeeun Kim are using 3D printers to assist very young blind and visually impaired readers (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

Professor Tom Yeh heads up the uni’s Sikuli Lab, and he and his students started by producing four 3D-printed pages for Harold and the purple crayon (by Crockett Johnson) earlier this year. They’ve now also produced a complete 3D-printed Goodnight moon (by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd).

Professor Yeh and his team are working with the Anchor Center for Blind Children (a Denver preschool) in developing the project.

Graduate student Abigale Stangl (right), a CU-Boulder doctoral student and a volunteer at the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver, shows a young Anchor Center student and her mother a 3D version of Goodnight moon. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)
Graduate student Abigale Stangl (right), a CU-Boulder doctoral student and a volunteer at the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver, shows a young Anchor Center student and her mother a 3D version of Goodnight moon. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

Their ultimate goal is that one day, when every household has a 3D printer, people will be able to make tactile picture books for children to use and enjoy at home.

Excellent, don’t you think? Thanks, springwise, for mentioning this great project.

From the wonders of the near future, let’s take a step back in time now.

If you’re curious about what children were reading 100 (or more) years ago, why not visit the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature online? It’s the repository of ‘130,000 books and periodicals published in the United States and Great Britain from the mid-1600s to the present day’. The Library as Incubator project describes the Baldwin Library as the United States’ ‘preeminent resource for researchers interested in children’s literature’.

The Baldwin Library has some great collections, including one focusing on Alice in Wonderland. This edition was illustrated by John Tenniel (1820-1914) and published by Macmillan & Co.
The Baldwin Library has some great collections, including one focusing on Alice in Wonderland. This edition was illustrated by John Tenniel (1820-1914) and published by Macmillan & Co.

It all began with an initial donation by prolific collector Ruth Baldwin of 35,000 children’s books, in 1977. The library opened at the University of Florida in 1982, and its collection has grown in the ensuing years. It’s held some great exhibitions, and its digital resources are very easy to use. Why not take a brief escape into this online treasure soon?

Closer to home, here’s a shout out to Jackie Hosking. She’s a children’s writer who’s also been doing a lot for other Australian children’s writers for the last 10 years.

Jackie’s e-zine, Pass it on, is a great starting point for anyone interested in writing for children.

It’s the place to go to find out about competitions, workshops and opportunities for Australian children’s book writers and illustrators. Jackie’s a talented writer of rhyming stories, and runs an editorial service for similar writers. Libby Gleeson, Jackie French and Susanne Gervay are just a few of the e-zine’s fans. If you’re interested in writing for children, you really don’t want to miss it.

And because I love a pun (and would love even more to be a six-year-old enjoying this sleepover!), I wanted to mention the Australian Museum’s ‘Dinosnore’ Sleepover in its Dinosaurs exhibition. It is an expensive outing, but possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for interested kids (and accompanying adults).

From the Australian Museum's Dinosaurs exhibition: a replica of Minmi paravertebral. Photo: Carl Bento, © Australian Museum
From the Australian Museum’s Dinosaurs exhibition: a replica of Minmi paravertebral! Photo: Carl Bento © Australian Museum

Mentioning Sydney’s ‘night at the museum’ reminds me of the movie Night at the museum, and its stars Ben Stiller and Robin Williams. Among the many stories written about Robin Williams’ passing this week, Stiller’s words about meeting Williams when Stiller was a young teen rang so true:

I met Robin when I was 13 at the Improv. I was there with my parents who were maybe performing and it was crowded and I heard this voice behind me saying ‘Stay close to your mother you’ll be safe! Stay close to your mother you’ll be safe!’ … I turned around and it was Robin. For a 13 year old who was a huge Mork & Mindy fan, it was sort of like the end of the world. I never forgot it.

While the loss of Williams has saddened millions, he’ll be remembered by history as a comedian in the same league as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Bob Hope and other legends. And, as many writers noted, his fans ranged across ages, including the very young. So it seems somehow right to end this post about children’s literature with Sesame Street’s lovely tribute (on Twitter) to Robin Williams this week:

 

Daisies. Photo: Theresa Willsteed, copyright 2013

2 thoughts on “A few stories for Children’s Book Week

  1. Another article from you that tells me lots of wonderful stuff I’m glad I know esp 3d books. When so much bad stuff is happening in the world at least we can say that there is some evidence of humanity moving forward with the Paralympics, presence of diverse types of people in entertainment and now books designed with people with diverse needs in mind. I signed up for pass it on a couple of weeks back and only discovered it then by accident so I’m sure others will find out from your blog about it too. Love your elegant and interesting stream of consciousness in this blog post!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I agree, it’s really hard to stay optimistic when so many awful things are happening. But projects like the Tactile Picture Book project and it Pass it on are so wonderful – all happening because of the creativity, generosity and hard work of the people behind them! Thanks again, Sarah, you’ve made my day!

      Like

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